The movement of water itself is cleansing. The Sufis call upon water's qualities with the wazifa, wahabo. When pronounce accurately the word sounds like water, think bubbling brook. Sufis also repeat it as a mantra for a variety of occasions such as to prepare for public speaking, consider the cleansing of the voice the pronunciation causes which is not unlike the odd sounding practices a vocal teacher might assign a student. Spiritual practice is always made richer when we do it with multiple senses, I've heard this dancing called praying with one's body.
While in Bend I've enjoyed the Duchutes river's presence. I've run along it, slept aside it, and it has been a part of my internal practice. Oh, I picked up the yoga matt at a yard sale. It was in the free box. : )
I don't mind spending as much as 1/2 hr a day cleaning the interior of Hondo. It keeps me sane. I air out the fabrics, brush the floors, and wipe the surfaces, and clean Sesame's nose smears off the windows. It also helps that we shut the windows when we're in dusty places with car traffic. Many leave their cars wide open failing to realize that each passer by can leave you a pound heavier just from road dust!
In these ten weeks we have amassed a variety of systems for staying clean. We have white cotton square rags that we keep around for a variety of uses: one is kitchen only, each of us has a body rag, and we have a car rag (for the interior). I also stock disinfectants in the form of essential oils: eucalyptus and tea tree are my favorites. Morning and night we boil water and use the personal rag to wash with hot water. Nothing feels better. When your hanging out in nature dirty feet turn into what we call troll foot. Nighttime foot baths are divine and keep our bed clean.
Eating well can be challenging when traveling and living out of a car. We've been in Bend, OR for about two weeks. There are no shortage of places to eat here and they're all pretty good. We've found the food truck and faster food joints to be as good as the higher end restaurants. I don't mean corporate chain fast food, I mean local mom-n-pop joints where one can get a taco of odd varieties. Many promise hormone free, grass fed beef while keeping it under ten bucks. That said, if you don't like tacos you may have to hunt for something else to eat! Our fav's include Korean shredded pork with kimchi.
Its hard to find the inspiration to cook when eating out is comparable in price. Still when we want to fill up on veggies nothing beats a stir fry made by a fast moving river. Here are pics of one that I make often, loads of veggies, a protein (in this case tempe) and a sauce I made from garlic, honey, molasses, red pepper, vinegar and tamari. We cook this on a simple 2 burner gas camping stove. We also travel with our juicer. Every couple of days we're sure to make a juice to assure that we get enough micro nutrients. Of course not all cities offer an abundance of healthy options so at times the juicer carries us through food deserts.
I wear a seat belt when driving in Bend, OR. Did I mention the 18 breweries they have? It might be more than that. People here drink all day. Not a lot, they enjoy a beer with lunch, a beer with dinner, a mid day cool off, a late day wind down, a celebration. I have not encountered a inebriated person since arriving.
Bend makes it easy to experience all the beer in town with an annual Fermentation Celebration, a walking event at a mall next to the river. In between corporate mega brand stores, breweries in pop tents serve 4oz tasters to ticket holders while 20 + bands perform.
I think that some of the breweries fibbed about their brew's IBUs. Mikey and I sampled several below 25 - our limit for hops, that had a big hoppy after taste. Hum. Our favs were a nitro porter that was ok not fantastic, and a saison. Most breweries seem to bring their cheapest beer, not their best. It was a fun night still and we meandered and sampled. I was distracted and annoyed by the mall environment with giant advertisements that seemed to be everywhere, a reminder of the consumerism that plagues this country and certainly did not skip over Bend, but I'll save these reflections for another post. Having made a intentional jaunt away from mall life (the past ten years spent living in NM), I was shocked to see that the stinky, toxic Bath and Body company is still in business. Haven't we learned anything? I forget again, that just because I have changed it does not mean the world ahs changed. Still I find myself surprised. Mikey had a allergic reaction from just walking by the place, doors held open to share the noxious stink with passer's by. The beer and mall pairing was not entirely out of character for Bend, a culture that loves consumer goods, plastic, synthetic, wearable, ridable, and yes - uh - smellable!
Thought there are nearly twenty breweries in Bend it seems that only a couple count. If your reviewing them based on artistry, authenticity of process, and taste, Deschutes Brewery is the winner hands down and no one in Bend will argue with you about it. We've heard that people who own and work in the breweries in town started at Deschutes. I will say this, all of the beer in Bend is better without the heavy dose of materialism, maybe they can ditch the mall environment next year.
When I first stared running I was keeping up with Mikey. Imagining myself plump and comparatively out of shape, I didn't want to be left behind. Then I ran for time alone in the desert. It felt nourishing after having finished a tiring seven month long book tour. As my body adapted to the intensity of distance running, I ran because I realized that I had to move through the pain that running brought up in order to get to the other side of it, in order to really change who I was and was becoming. Backing off was not an option. Now I run in order to see the beautiful places that I can get to because I run. Here are a few photos of run's we've done in the last two weeks.
First Two - Eagle Creek Trail near Cascade Locks just outside of Hood River, OR (14 miles to huge waterfal RT out n back)
Next Two - Dechutes River Trail, Bend, OR (from where we're starting 22 mi RT out n back)
- Durango, CO - Carver Brewing C. - Saison
- Pagosa Springs, CO - Pagosa Springs, CO - Stout and Porter
- Carson City, NV - Lake Tahoe Brewing Co. - Cucumber Blonde
- Truckee, CA - 50/50 - Belgian style tripel
- Reno, NV - Silverpeak - unremarkable selection
- Auburn, CA - Auburn Ale House - OK Stout, eh.... all around
- Boonville, CA - Anderson Valley Brewing Co. - Watermelon sour, Double, all great, knowledgable staff, great bartender, they produce their own power!
- Arcata - Eel River in route to Arcata
- Ft. Bragg - Piazzi Pizza Bar - Great tap selection. Farmhouse Ale Sour
- Coos Bay, OR - We had a great bottled Rodenbach Red Sour at a German restaurant
- Portland, OR - McMenamins - a disney land style franchise brewery. We're pretty sure they short cut their process and faked it with flavoring.
- Tacoma, WA - Harmon Brewing was OK. Though the waiter who forgot us completely then apologized and said, "these are on me," charged us anyway. Snarl.
- Port Townsend, WA - The Porterhouse - Loved the brewery on the beach. Loved the Horcheta, and a porter that was from Dechutes
Now being partnered to a geek comes with a midfield of peculiarities. If a conversation is taking place too near to the one I'm having with Mikey it is me that he drops. Later he'll recite from the conversation he's not supposed to be in word-for-word. Then there's the plethora of language issues. Just the other day at the coffee counter at Velocity in Port Townsend, the woman behind the counter asked us, "do you want a latte?" Mikey looked at his shoes. "The question was wrong," he told me later. I did not want a late, I wanted a chemex for two. He had been staring at the variety of scientific looking glass accouterments that adorned the counter with mesmerized fascination. A large flask like glass piece that looked hand-blown sat upon a digital scale. The guy standing over it was who Mikey was waiting for. The two went on to talk out the details of the two cups of coffee we were soon to ingest. The counter guy (also the owner) explained that he was doing a multi-pour, waiting for the coffee to bloom after each pour (I didn't know coffee bloomed - and I'm still not sure it does), before pouring again. The scale measured the weight of each pour, you know, to be precise. Mikey was in heaven. So was the owner. The pair held up the line for the next 20 minutes, the length of time it took to make the coffee wonder we drank, and all for $2.50 a cup. A woman standing by the scene said, "I'll have whatever he's having. I want that experience." And that's what it was, an experience.
We had the time and enjoyed our coffee which was served with a shot glass of lightly carbonated mineral water, a kind of palette cleanser. Add one sturdy dock overlooking the bay and a morning sun rise and you've got a near perfect morning.
Mikey and I have slowed our 6 months of summer meandering with a stop at his parent's home near Seattle where we hunkered down for three weeks. We got out of the Honda for a bit and into a cushy bed. Mikey complained and wanted to sleep in the driveway in the parked car.
We did a few short jaunts to nearby places while here running frequently at Point Defiance, Steilacoom Park, and a trail called Sequalitchew Creek. Our longer stints have been Leavenworth, the Bavarian village that features alpine lakes and recently the waterfront historic town of Port Townsend, WA.
I wondered why Port Townsend felt different than other places. Sure the historic victorian buildings were unusual, and the place is on a peninsula surrounded by the bay and this came with a soundtrack of gulls squawking. The street traffic was mellow (not four lane but two), and the place bustled with foot traffic. Little trail markers popped up all over the place indicating a hike or a cut through where one could shortcut their way across a part of town. I remembered growing up in Long Island in the 70s and how at that time we still had these kinds of natural cut throughs, grass patches, and nooks to play in. Port Townsend also featured parks a plenty and they were all in use. The waterfront was kept public and made accessible to all. After a day I realized what it was that I was feeling there. Pt Townsend had banned big box stores and corporate chains. A simple sweet way of life that I last felt in the 1970s resulted. My whole nervous system relaxed. And so did everyone else's. Not only that, but the economy seemed to be bustling with mom n pop shops, buildings for theater and entertainment, a real drive in movie theater, odd shops and unusual restaurants. There were more than a few places to learn things like a woodworking center located on an old Fort that's become a community center. Sharing resources was a theme commonly expressed here.
We searched out a place to stealth camp in the Honda in town so that we could hit yard sales in the morning and found a perfect spot at the historic Bell Tower that sits perched above town with a waterfront view. The tower sits just 100 yards off of a not so busy road, has space for a couple of cars and is protected on all sides by a shrub border. Really? Could we be so lucky? Yes! Two nights and not only did no one bother us, but occasionally we bumped into folks who lived near by and who were out for a walk. They were friendly and welcoming. A recent transplant from Alaska remarked when we rolled out of our vehicle in the am wearing pjs, "I like your ride."
To top it off the local Pourhouse serves a plethora of beers on tap at a sandy outdoor beach setting with live music every night. It was packed. I could feel summer fun starting up. Yay Port Townsend.
More than a few who wrote to me said the book influenced them to make a decision different than the one they were about to make before reading the book. One reader said, "I was afraid to read your book." She knew it contained a something that may sway her. It did. Usually the through process people describe to me is something like, "I was going to move to the city and start building a career but decided to take a six month road trip with my husband first and think things through." Then comes a story about remembering that they had a dream that would not take flight if they took the career path before them. Then the new decision. "So I decided to by our family farm and raise my kids there." Or in Aniko's case, she went to herbalism school. When she wrote to tell me about her life changing decisions I replied suggesting she start a blog, advice I give to everyone starting a journey. Journey's are important, interesting, and ought to be shared. Here's the one she started. Yay Aniko!
This year marks the tenth that Swap-O-Rama-Rama was produced at the Maker Faire (in San Mateo, CA). From the start this has been a charmed pairing. I remember the very first year in which I, along with the MF staff, celebrated as Swap-O-Rama-Rama was immediately embraced by Maker Faire attendees. Local talent showed up in droves to teach attendees to sew, stitch, deconstruct, and hack textiles. Thousands of pounds of textiles were repurposed and saved from landfill. Silk screeners threw down designs that were so out-of -the-box that lines to obtain them wrapped around the 6,000 sq ft room that the swap was in. Today the event features a speaking lounge for talks of all things fashion and textile. The fashion show was packed with creative people young an old ogling over the new creative opportunity made available at the faire, textiles!!
Today I take a back seat to the Swap-O-Rama-Rama's production. The San Mateo faire swap is produced by Erin Scholl who also runs a regular running Swap-O-Rama-Rama in the bay area. Thanks to Erin and the fantastic and loyal staff that she's put together for yet another fantastic event. Here are some photos from the event that took place last week.
This was in keeping with signs we've read all along our route from Colorado to Cali. A sign posted in a public park in the county of Del Norte, CA read, "no free picnicking." Really. Why? Ubiquitous were signs stating, "No Overnight Parking."
Growing up I recall that my friends and I regularly parked around the burbs. Favorite spots included behind the Morton Village Shopping Center, the woods behind the USPS building, in sumps, cemeteries, and abandoned lots where homes had not yet been built. Kids love these kinds of nooks. But even then, one did not have to hide, we liked to hide. We also hung out wherever we wanted and regularly parked in any ol' lot, by a store or business, or an empty space be it an official park or not. Back then (oh my do I sound old!) cops took you home to your mother if you were found in a precarious position, not to jail. Humm.. do you think this may have to do with the fact that jails were not privately funded profit centers in the late 70s and 80s?
Before leaving T or C, a place where free space is still abundant, a friend from Wyoming told us that his state proudly hosted city parks with bathrooms and running water . They welcome guests (even those who sleep in cars and tents) for three days. Now that's more like it.
Although it has not been written, I think that we can say that it is illegal to live an indigenous life. No one is free to exist in space as space is no longer free. We are pointed to private property as the only space we have a right to exist in. If your lucky enough to own some, life is a little easier. If you add to this lonely picture that today more than half of the states in America have made feeding homeless people illegal, one has to wonder where the heart of our nation has gone.
Since we moved into the Honda Element, Mikey and I have boondocked with Mikey's aunt in Coos Bay and recently in Portland with our friends Trevor and Katrina. Boondocking is a hybrid of staying at someone's home and living in your vehicle. When boondocking we sleep on our 4" memory foam bed in the Honda, use our hosts kitchen and bath, and charge electronics off their power. Its a nice hybrid, having your own personal space and giving your host some.
Visiting Trevor and Katrina I wondered if I got a glimpse of what our dog Sesame experiences on the road. Each time the car door opens a new world appears with smells, sounds and sights different from the last. Trevor and Katrina's home is a noticable aesthetic shift to an earthy, Etsy'esque, creative, play space with its own unique sound track. Trevor handmade much of the furniture and the sound. A musician and woodworker, his home is a fingerprint. I appreciate people who recognize that details matter. Scent, sound, pace, color. . . some people can dial up beauty in each moment.
At home in New Mexico and in the car on the road, the ONLY music that Mikey and I play without asking the other's approval is Trevor, aka East Forest. I am pretty sure Trevor has connected to something as primal as my DNA. I am grateful. After a couple of days in their dreamy wonder-world we invited them to check out the Honda-world in their driveway. I was hardly surprised when Trevor recommended we get glow in the dark stars for the ceiling or a bliss light for ambiance. Silly me, how did I not think of that! This is what friends are for.
It has been a month on the road and I'm triggered, downright irritated, and awe struck. Jostled from familiar, comfortable, routine life now regularly kicks up metaphorical subconscious dust. My sketch book journal contains more than a few scribbles like this: lose, misplace items, no systems, ever day anew = need to let go, trust more, accept chance. Here's another. . . things happen ready or not. A hike without water, suddenly dinner = be flexible. Social anxiety. What armor is going up here? Must have enough downtime in which to recharge. The funniest recent scribble was, I am too old to do this. There is also this note to self: return to retreat practices, create an on the road set of practices: yoga, meditation, and morning pages.
You can see in these notes a desire for order and repetition. Perpetual newness is currently more tiring than exciting which is interesting because when I was a bit younger it was the other way around. This sparks contemplative questions about aging. What is this tendency telling me about myself? How should this decade of life be different from the previous?
Another observation that I've made is that I tend to do, and therefore become, the things I most need to learn. Throughout my life I've been called fearless. What I know to be true is something a little different. When I'm fearful I take on the thing that I'm afraid of. This is different than being fearless. I'm acutely aware of this right now each time I load a new GPS map in GaiaGPS on my phone, fill my hydration pack with water, and head out on a trail that leads me into a wilderness - to a place I've never been. I could find myself lost or become injured. I could panic. These are reasons to do it. Joy is an afterthought. Each time I enact this ritual I ask of the fear, will it be this time that it subsides? Maybe it never should. This might be the voice of my common sense making sure that I remember a lighter, knife, mace and extra water.
Living in a car, a condition in which each time the front door opens reveals a different set of faces, ideas, geographic icons, weather patterns, communal memories, and cultural trends ... dials up everything I can muster about adaptation. Newness is all there is. Sometimes one finds there is no where to go. No where to park without paying, rest without noise, or change clothing without public view. There are many opportunities to see culture anew, to notice what it tells us about how we've shaped the world and how we may wish to change it.
I know that what follows is likely adaptation and then assimilation. Further down the road there may even be mastery. In this moment my brain is seeking for repetition, systems, and order. Ways to make linear and familiar what is chaotic and even frightening, though more often tiring. I remember that throughout my lifetime I amassed tools. I am a yogi, Sufi, athlete, artist, contemplative, entrepreneur, adventurer, nomad. Life calls for a review.
my book in the summer of 2013 my publisher asked where I wanted to stay for the two days I had off while in N. California. I got in a rented car and drove north to stay at the Boonville Hotel. First I called them. Their rate was higher than what my publisher paid for overnights. I asked if they could cut me a break. They did!
Having lived for almost a decade in T or C, I was tuned to small town life. San Fran was too hectic, too busy. I had to rest. A friend from T or C had recommended Boonville. She said, "they care about food, even the gas station serves fresh homemade food worth eating." She was right.
When I got to Boonvilled every moment unfolded a conversation, or an interesting happening. I wound up on the local radio station, serendipidy. My experience was the same this time around with Mikey.
The food was great, the people were friendly, the town was oh so pretty and full of people passing through but taking a good, long stop. The Brewery rocked! Yay Boonville!!
(Image: i was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take a bunch of pics in Boonville. These are of the Boonville, Hotel's grounds - lovely!)
Another lovely morning of waking up along the Eel River. We did not try the rope swing, but we did go swimming. This spot was just north of Leggett, CA near one of the redwood trees that you can drive through.